There are plenty of caves which you can visit during the week of the ICP Meeting. Some are close by, others a longer drive and hike to reach. You may even choose to go back into some of the caves a second time for more photography. Regardless of where you choose to go, there are rules that we must adhere to, so please be sure you understand them and agree to follow them.
There are two areas that we will visit: The High Guads and The Low Guads. Both areas are considered as being different in terms of White-Nose Syndrome. That means that equipment and clothing used in the High Guads area must be de-contaminated before it can be used in the Low Guads area and vice versa. Gear that has been used in one of the areas does not need to be de-conned between caving trips if it is used in the same area the following days. It will cut way down on the amount of time and labor if caving gear stays in the same usage area and it is the cavers that change their location and use gear meant for that location. While complicated, this seems to be the best way in which to minimize the amount of work for the de-conning operation.
The country from which you come may have a different view in terms of how you can go through a cave and what is acceptable behavior. In the United States, we have taken the approach of minimizing our impact on the caves in several ways. While you are visiting the US, we must insist that you follow the rules that we have adopted to. Many caves have "trails" through them. These may be orange or red plastic tape lines that mean "walk between these lines of tape". They may end in a tape loop which means "don't go beyond this location". All this is meant to preserve how our caves look so that people who come here in the future will see it as we do now. We usually wear rubberized gloves with knit fabric while traversing through passages so as not to leave skin flakes behind in the caves as an organic source. In some locations where there might be very delicate, well-decorated areas, we take off our dirty boots and put on lightweight slippers or aqua-socks to keep the dirt from being trampled on the clean areas.
Everything that goes into a cave must be brought back out of the cave as well. In particular, this means that your urine and any other bodily solids MUST be captured and brought out with you for disposal. Bluntly, this means don't pee or poop in the cave unless it is in a designated pee bottle or a large plastic zip-lock baggie. We roll those up and call them "cave burritos". Nonetheless, bring it all out for disposal.
We ask you gently to abide by these rules and expect that all of you will do so without question, but anyone who intentionally does NOT follow these rules will be escorted out of the cave immediately and banned from further participation in the ICP Meeting with no refund of registration money. Your behavior will affect the way in which we, the organizers, are viewed by the agencies that manage the caves. Your bad behavior would look like it was our bad behavior as well and could lead to us being forbidden to enter these caves ever again. Please respect and follow the rules that everyone has to in the United States. Thank you!
The government agencies that manage the caves we will be visiting are insisting on decontamination of all gear between the two caving areas (High Guads and Low Guads). This requires that your camera gear be thoroughly decontaminated as well. Don't worry, you don't have to dunk your camera into water at 140 F (60 C)! However, some of your packs you normally use for carrying that camera gear will have to change. You may NOT use the foam rubber to pad your camera in a Pelican box if that is what you normally use. Spores that cause White-Nose Syndrome cannot be cleaned from inside the pores of open cell foam rubber that has already been in a WNS cave. However using new foam that is placed inside of new plastic baggies can be used. The baggies can be wiped down with de-conning liquids to remove any potential spores from being transported from one area to another.
Because of the WNS problem, here are some suggestions for carrying your camera gear in containers that are not too expensive and meet the requirements for not spreading the spores that cause WNS. These photos and methods were created by Dan and use some simple things such as plastic baggies, cut foam and new hard cases to protect your photo gear. We will have several large rolls of 1/2 inch thick foam rubber and heavy duty plastic baggies to cut your own padding for the interior of your camera gear boxes. We will also provide you with 10 inch by 15 inch bubble wrap baggies which are disposable when changing you photography location from High Guads area to Low Guads area when de-contaminating is necessary. The bubble wrap baggies can be used both for your strobes and cameras/lenses and will cushion them from damage inside your camera case.
We will help you during the week-long Meeting to properly clean and protect your photo gear as required by the cave management officials.